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"Ohmigod, it’s the Queen!," whispered a PR guy working on the new Guy Pearce film, "First Snow," as he watched Oscar-nominated Helen Mirren arrive at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel Friday afternoon. She’d flown all the way from London, where she’s been filming her latest movie, an adventure/fantasy called "Inkheart," based on Cornelia Funke’s novel, also starring Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis and Paul Bettany. Dame Mirren was followed by her intrepid public relations agent Stan Rosenfield, on his cell phone, of course. Mirren later showed up at the Arlington theatre to get her Outstanding Performance of the Year award and have an onstage chat about her life and career with fest director Roger Durling.

Rosenfield had been at last year’s festival with his client George Clooney, who was given the SBIFF  Modern Master Award and stayed in the historic Upham Hotel, a 125-year-old B&B in the heart of town. Some say that George help put SBIFF on the map. The fest has had lots of past a-list guests like Leonardo Dicaprio, Sean Penn, Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts. But this year’s fest boasts 35 Oscar nominees attending various panels, screenings, premieres and awards.Saturday’s Directors’ Panel reads like an AMPAS press release: Stephen Frears, Alejandro Gonzales InarrItu, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris, John Lassater and Todd Field. It’s kinda like Durling has had to swat O nommers away like flies.

“Last year, we put out invites to several actors but had to wait for them to give their answer,” admitted Durling.  This year, it’s been much smoother. Durling invited Mirren and Forest Whitaker way back in June and says he got swift affirmatives. For Helen, that could be in part because Stan and George had such a rocking time here last year.  “Stan was very hands-on about all the details last year. But he and George had such a good time, this year he said he trusted us to handle all the details.”

William H. Macy, here to present Helen’s award, also hit the Biltmore Friday. But where’s wife Felicity Huffman?
She’s in New York where she did a stop at Barnes and Noble Friday  for her
book,"A Practical Guide for the Boyfriend." Wouldn’t a good boyfriend be with his wife for her first book tour? Whatever. They have one of the most supportive and successful marriages in Hollywood. If it ain’t broke, no need to change anything.

Photo Credits: Helen Mirren’s arrival almost elicited curtsies and bows at the Four Seasons Biltmore.
M Trullinger

Posted by:LATimes